Tokyo Mew Mew is a 52 episode magical girl anime that ran from 2002 to 2003 and was brought over to America as Mew Mew Power (spoiler, we’re not here to talk about Mew Mew Power—though I can if you want me to). A simple warning for this review: Tokyo Mew Mew is a series full of nostalgia for me. I first began watching it as Mew Mew Power in sixth grade as well as reading the manga. I also made a lot of AMVs back then and Tokyo Mew Mew was one of my favorites to use. So I just want to warn you that I’m going to be referencing my nostalgia a bit because it was out in full force when I watched the show.
Tokyo Mew Mew stars Ichigo Momomiya who is capable of becoming a magical girl known as a Mew Mew. The Mew Mews powers come from endangered animals (known as red data animals) whose instincts to protect their species are turned into magical powers used to protect the planet. Wishing to take over Earth, a race of aliens arrive hoping to escape the harsh conditions of their home planet; however upon seeing the environmental damage done to Earth by humans, the aliens decide to wipe out humanity. Ichigo and her new comrades must now fight to protect all of Earth from total destruction.
For the most part Tokyo Mew Mew’s story what you’d expect after reading that description. Ichigo tries to be a good girlfriend while also fighting to save the world. She often fails at her first objective but is good at protecting Earth from the aliens. What makes gives Tokyo Mew Mew a slight edge in the story department is the idea that even though this is a battle between humans and aliens, neither party is really good or bad. Early on the Mew Mews definitely feel as if they are the righteous ones but soon the group comes to realize things aren’t that simple. The message carried in Tokyo Mew Mew is an admirable one; protect the Earth because it’s the only planet we’ve got.
Ok, bear with me here there are quite a few characters in Tokyo Mew Mew and I’d like to at least touch on all of them. One interesting point though is: I’m not going to be crowning a best girl. While my childhood screams I must say Pudding is my favorite, as an adult I actually like all the girls pretty equally. I used to not like Lettuce as much but watching her interactions with Pudding and seeing more sides to her made her a much better character (especially episode 34). With that said, let’s get right into it.
Frist up is Ichigo, the main character and leader of the Mew Mews. Ichigo’s body has been infused with the DNA of the Iriomote cat. Ichigo is our primary focus throughout the show and her relationships with those around her (especially Aoyama) are key to the story. Overall she’s a happy go luck girl who, while annoying at times, is willing to sacrifice herself for the world, even if she complains while doing it. Ichigo can be really immature but her hearts in the right place and it’s what helps make her a good leader for the group. Personally I think the show could use with a little less of her whining about her relationship but that’s just me.
Second to join the team is Mint whose red data animal is the blue lorikeet. Mint is the rich girl of the group and it shows. She often has a very interesting disconnect including a fantastic scene in episode 34 where she thinks she’ll be able to sell a very expensive Romanov cabinet at a park charity event. I’m a huge fan of Mint; she can be stuck up and annoying, especially early on in the series but she’s also anxious about the future and terribly scared about what will happen if the Mew Mews fail their mission. Mint leans on Zakuro a lot for support in this manner and their relationship is one I wish the show had gone into more. Still, Mint’s character episodes are some of my absolute favorites of the series because they’re often where we really see how much Mint has grown from the “I’m better than you” rich type to a girl who appreciates her friends.
Third in the group is Lettuce, the gentle girl of the group and formerly my least favorite of the group; now a character I’m glad is around. Her red data animal is the finless porpoise. What makes Lettuce so interesting is that she’s all about making other people happy. Her family actually raised her this way and it’s something her parents wholeheartedly believe in. Of course this does cause Lettuce some problems. When we first meet her, Lettuce is letting herself be abused by other classmates. At first it just seems like she’s an unpopular girl being used but throughout the show you come to realize that Lettuce just wants to make people happy but she also has to learn where to draw the line and when to put herself above other people. This made her character episodes really interesting because we often watched Lettuce find the thin line between making everyone happy and looking out for herself.
The thing that really made me like Lettuce though was her interactions with Pudding. Pudding is the youngest member of the group (being in elementary school) and often gets treated as a kid. Lettuce however treats Pudding as an equal and often hangs out with her. The two are often seen with each other and it is shown that Lettuce confides in Pudding. The best part about their relationship is that it’s obvious that Lettuce wants to be with Pudding and isn’t just being polite. It might seem like a really small detail to some but it just made me really happy.
Speaking of Pudding, she’s the fourth member of the Mew Mews. Like I mentioned, she’s also the youngest and fully embodies her red data animal, the Golden Lion Tamarin (a monkey). Prior to working at Café Mew Mew Pudding is seen performing in the park and you later find out she is the caretaker and provider for her five younger siblings. Thus Pudding has a tendency to act especially immature around the other Mew Mews but it really is just her finding time to be a child. As a kid I connected with her hyper behavior and she’s been a favorite of mine since.
Lastly for the Mew Mews is Zakuro. Zakuro’s animal is the gray wolf who really exemplifies the idea of a lone wolf. Zakuro is an actress and model who is initially uninterested in joining the Mew Mews. Ichigo eventually convinces her to team up with them but Zakuro still remains a mystery. She’s the most mature of the group as well as the most quiet and really needed more characterization. Beyond some of her relationship with Mint and a few episodes where she helps Ichigo with her relationship, we don’t see enough of Zakuro, which is sad because she’s a cool character. Even just an episode or two more of development would have been good.
Now that we’ve done the main girls we need to talk about the other characters. To start with I’m going to make a big statement: Aoyama is the worst possible romantic lead for this show. Not only is Aoyama bland, he gets little development, and I can find no reason for him to actually like Ichigo before they started dating. Aoyama is such a big factor in Ichigo’s development and yet he in turn has almost none. At the end the show does try to squeeze a little bit of development in for Aoyama but it’s too little too late for me.
One of the biggest problems with Aoyama being the love interest for Ichigo is that there were two other, much better developed, characters waiting for their chance. These two of course were Ryou and Kish. Ryou is one of the two people responsible for the Mew Project after he inherited it from his father who was killed by a Chimera Animal. Ryou and Ichigo didn’t get along at first but overtime were able to create a friendly relationship. Their dynamic is way more entertaining than Ichigo and Aoyama’s and there’s even some suggestion that Ichigo likes Ryou. It helps that deep down Ryou is nice.
Kish is the exact opposite of Ryou, an alien attempting to take over the Earth. Kish is the first villain the Mew Mews interact with and he makes quite the impression. Kish not only kisses Ichigo during one of their early meetings but also labels her ‘his toy’ and spends the rest of the series attempting to make Ichigo his. I’m not saying this is the couple they should have gone for but it sure would have been more interesting and has way more draw than the Ichigo/Aoyama relationship. Plus Kishi a memorable villain.
Kish is later joined by Pai and Tart. Pai is the super serious researcher of the trio. He believes in the cause 100% and is willing to do whatever it takes to save their planet. Tart one the other hand is a child who mostly looks at the job as a game. He does whatever brings him the most fun. This doesn’t mean Tart can’t be serious or doesn’t understand how severe the situation of their home planet is in; he just really cares about having a good time while he fights the Mew Mews.
Together all of these characters (and more) come tougher to create an utterly unforgettable cast. As I mentioned earlier, when I first started TMM in middle school I easily picked favorites but now that’s just too hard for me. I though as an adult Pudding’s hyperactivity (something I liked when I was younger) would no longer appeal to me but I still enjoy her character a lot. Then there’s my ever growing love for Mint who has become one of my favorites. The subtitle changes in her personality and mannerisms are a perfect highlight of character development done right. The biggest change in my opinion though is in Lettuce. I’ve already mentioned that but it still surprises me how much I like her now. I think one reason I’m finding myself so astonished by my changing opinions is that I’m no longer dealing with the English dub which had a tendency to keep everyone’s dialogue to their most prominent character aspect (but hey, that’s what happens in a 4Kids dub).
When Tokyo Mew Mew wants to look good, it does it. Some episodes of the show are notably better than others, with not only better animations in general but also better/more shading and much more detail to each character. But when Tokyo Mew Mew isn’t on the level of greatness, it can be anywhere from meh to straight up awful. I hate being harsh on the show because I really enjoy it but there will be times when you notice problems and they will be frequent. Some faces just don’t look right or an episode is just plain ‘off,’ these can be the pitfalls of an older show, especially one that was never touched up.
But thankfully we have more to talk about than just animations. We’re also going to talk about the character designs. Personally I think the character designs are one of the best parts of the show. Each girl has a unique look that is extremely memorable, even 15 years later. I’m also a huge fan of their transformation sequences. Each girl has their own music and transformation that really matches their personality. For example, Mint’s transformation includes ballet (a theme of hers) while Pudding’s is very athletic. These are some top tier magical girl transformation sequences for me.
The soundtrack for Tokyo Mew Mew is arguably the part with the most nostalgia for me. It all goes back to me making AMVs and during this I used their transformations frequently which lead to their transformation themes to almost get ingrained in my head. So a decade later when I started watching Tokyo Mew Mew again, the transformation themes really stood out. Each one is unique to the girls and fantastic in their own right but they aren’t the only good songs the show has.
In fact, Tokyo Mew Mew has a lot of good background music throughout the show. The music featured in Tokyo Mew Mew is an interesting mix of classical and synth that feels both really early 2000’s but also timeless. One of the best examples of this is Kisshu awareru which presents jazz mixed with synth and lots of percussion. It’s also one of my favorite songs from the sountrack. Other favorites include: Kanashimi o nori koe Hijiri naru chikara o, Shinipi no Mew Aqua, Jikai Yokoku (a track that really captures the feel of Tokyo Mew Mew), and Akogare no Aoyama-kun among others. If you’re interested in listening to any of these songs a quick YouTube search will bring up the soundtrack. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m actually considering importing it.
I’ll be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed Tokyo Mew Mew. I know some of my unconditional love comes from nostalgia but even after 10 years I found Tokyo Mew Mew enjoyable. Even as an adult this series means a lot to me. My opinions have changed so much from thinking it was a fun show as a kid to seeing the deeper levels of thought put into the show (while still understanding where it could have improved). Watching the aliens struggle with their mission and the burden of protecting their people while also watching the Mew Mews realize they aren’t just fighting a mindless enemy but real people who are also trying to protect their world, was an amazing experience. Children’s anime don’t always handle more complex topics but Tokyo Mew Mew manages to squeeze them into the series with ease alongside other more simple scenes of Ichigo fawning over Aoyama. It’s definitely a nice touch for the series and what helps it stay a good watch as an adult.
Also I’m still a tad upset A La Mode never got an anime.
Final Score: 7.2
Bonus: If you like any of the PreCure series, than you should definitely watch Tokyo Mew Mew. They are extremely similar types of shows expect Tokyo Mew Mew features romance and isn’t as heavy on creating relationships between the girls.
This took a lot longer than I planned it to but I guess I just wrote over 2000 words about Tokyo Mew Mew so I guess it makes sense. Up next is Magical Lyrical Nanoha and when I say next I mean I’ve already finished it and just need to write the review.